Luxury brands are viewed as a signal of status and wealth, with high perceived social value and hedonic value, which satisfies an emotional desire of buyers. Chinese society is collective, with strong emphasis on group values and social status and we have all witnessed Chinese consumers queuing in stores to buy brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior and others.
In recent years, the growth of social media and e-commerce has changed the views of marketers. The luxury industry has gradually recognised the importance of using the Internet and social media. Social media can enhance a brand’s reputation, increase interactions with customers and stimulate their desire for luxury.
Global powerhouse brands such as Gucci, Mulberry, Dior and Chanel have long been popular amongst Chinese consumers and are often much cheaper when bought in the UK rather than domestically. A report by Global Blue says that 73 per cent of luxury purchases made in 2013 amongst the Chinese were overseas emphasising the scope of importance of engaging Chinese consumers.
Another area to experience growth among shoppers in China is mobile, with 300 million shoppers purchasing via mobile devices in 2014, presenting a 35 per cent year-on-year growth. Meanwhile the growing use of social platforms such as WeChat and Weibo are now a source of “heightened influence” in a country where the media and government exercise stringent control.
Luxury brands have created a variety of apps for WeChat to be used within the platform such as built-in profile features or limited-time campaigns. A growing number of brands are developing interactive WeChat games and activities for their marketing campaigns. Examples are Burberry’s “parallel social event” for its Shanghai store opening or Montblanc’s “Big Boss” game.
Luxury brands have realised the importance of social media in China and the opportunities these platforms offer to engage Chinese consumers. Those who utilise these gargantuan platforms, Weibo and Wechat, to offer something extra, something unique, something consumers cannot experience anywhere else will be the brands that succeed.